Knowledge and power: The interface between religion and education in China

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Religion is becoming increasingly popular among students in post-Mao China, especially in the higher education arena. This growing interest in religion poses a potential challenge to the compulsory Marxist ideology taught in the school curriculum. Focusing on a group of university student believers from different religious traditions, this study explores how Chinese students negotiate their religious beliefs with the Marxism-based knowledge acquired from primary to tertiary educational levels. Three patterns are observed in the religious students’ accounts: (a) grounding in religious conviction; (b) negotiation through lived experience; and (c) deconstruction of Marxist thought from an academic perspective. Drawing on Young’s theoretical concept of the ‘knowledge of the powerful’, this study reveals an interplay between the different forms of knowledge that shape religious students’ beliefs and identities in China. Copyright © 2017 University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-156
JournalCambridge Journal of Education
Issue number2
Early online dateJan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018



Zhao, Z. (2018). Knowledge and power: The interface between religion and education in China. Cambridge Journal of Education, 48(2), 141-156. doi: 10.1080/0305764X.2016.1256950


  • Knowledge
  • Curriculum
  • Religion
  • Ideology
  • University